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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Full Biography for Wilma Chan
Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) is an outspoken advocate on behalf of California children and their families.
Her legislative priorities include health care, senior services, early childhood education, environmental health, job creation and economic development.
She is undertaking an initiative to provide voluntary pre-school for all children.
Ms. Chan chairs the Joint Senate-Assembly Legislative Audit Committee, which provides oversight to state agencies and entities that receive state funds. Chan's goal is to improve government-funded programs and services and make them more cost-effective.
Ms. Chan served as the Assembly Majority Leader from 2002-2004, the first woman and the first Asian American to hold the position. She also served as Assembly Majority Whip from 2001-2002.
Chan serves on the Assembly Budget Committee, Education Finance subcommittee. She is a member of the Assembly Committees on Health, Transportation, Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security, and Banking and Finance.
Chan is Chair of the Select Committee on California Children's School Readiness and Health and Chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Asian Trade. She is Co-Chair of the Select Committee on Language Access to State Services, Co-Chair of the Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, member of the Select Committees on Water and Air Quality, and California-Mexico Relations. Chan is a member of the Legislative Women's Caucus, Environmental Caucus, Internet Caucus and Smart Growth Caucus.
She has also 'adopted' Fruitvale Elementary School in Oakland and is working with the parents, teachers, neighbors, community and civic groups to improve the health and education of the 700 students who attend the school. A new child development center opened in 2003. Chan has launched 'Computers for Kids' which distributs free computers to local schools.
In her first year in office, Chan convened the Assembly Select Committee on California Children's School Readiness and Health and held the first state hearings on the link between a child's health and school success. The committee issued a groundbreaking report of their finding and legislative recommendations.
Chan has authored new laws to make California the first state to ban toxic PBDEs, encourage counties to build school partnerships by donating surplus computers to schools. She led the successful legislative effort making permanent food stamps and cash assistance to low-income legal immigrant families and seniors and legislation to keep the Oakland Street Academy open. Chan also won approval of legislation to address seismic safety retrofitting at Oakland's Highland Hospital and to reintroduce nutrition into the health curriculum in public schools. Ms. Chan carried legislation to phase-out birth defect and cancer causing chemicals in California. She co-authored successful legislation to increase affordable housing, promotes smart growth and increase funding to education.
Chan worked on behalf of the district, obtaining funding for renovation of Buena Vista Park in the San Antonio neighborhood, new displays for the African American Museum and Library in Oakland and funding for Chabot Observatory.
This year Chan is launching "Adopt A School - Partnership for Success" to link civic groups, businesses, unions, neighborhood and service groups with local public schools. In the last three years, Chan has recruited more than 600 volunteers to spruce up childcare centers in Oakland and Alameda. She held sidewalk office hours throughout the district in the 'Chan Van' and distributed free energy saving lightbulbs to local residents. Chan organized 500 school children in Oakland, Alameda and Piedmont to make crafts that they brought to assisted living centers for seniors.
Assemblywoman Chan has been honored by the American Lung Association, the City of Los Angeles, Chinese-American Voter Education Committee, National Association of Social Workers-California Chapter, the American Association of University Women, California Hunger Action Network, Alameda County Tobacco Control Coalition and the Soroptimists among others. The Chinese language newspaper World Journal named her "Person of the Year". The Alameda Rotary gave her the Paul Harris award.
Ms. Chan was elected to the Assembly in 2000, bringing 25 years of community service and ten years of hands-on legislative experience to the Legislature.
Before winning election to the Assembly, Ms. Chan was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1994 and re-elected without opposition in 1998. On the Board of Supervisors, Ms. Chan chaired the Health Committee. Ms. Chan was the first Chair of the Alameda County Children and Families Commission, which is distributing $20 million annually in new funds for the children's services. Rob Reiner, Chair of the state Children and Families Commission called Alameda County's Commission the 'crown jewel' because of its comprehensive approach to early childhood development.
Her accomplishments at the Board of Supervisors included expanding the number of school-based health clinics, working with local officials to gain release of 220 acres of the Alameda Naval Air Station land for local needs, leading lobbying efforts to restore benefits to legal immigrants, championing efforts to build a new Emergency Room and Critical Care Building for the Alameda County Medical Center, Highland Hospital, and developing the strategic plan on the future of health care services in Alameda County. Chan also served as a member of the Oakland School Board.
Wilma Chan represents the cities of Oakland, Alameda and Piedmont in the California State Assembly.
Ms. Chan holds a BA from Wellesley and a Masters Degree in Education Policy from Stanford. A resident of Oakland for more than 20 years, Chan lives in Alameda. She is the mother of two children, a son attending UC San Diego and a daughter who works in public service.
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